The story of how Jimin became the “last piece” of the puzzle called BTS.
Composer and producer Bang Si-hyuk left JYP and established his own agency (Big Hit Entertainment) in 2005, where he would soon specify his plan of launching a rap idol group five years later. Kim Nam-joon, who was called Rap Monster (which he changed to RM from 2017), entered Big Hit that year, and a rap-based group was formed from him by adding underground rapper Kidoh, Iron, Supreme Boy, and Suga. A year later, j-hope, who is in charge of the dancing and singing position (and soon later, rap), was recruited, and in early 2012, Jungkook, V, and Jin started their journey in Big Hit through auditions. In the summer of the same year, Jimin joined as the last member. Among the trainees, there were Jeong In-sung and Seung-jun before they left and debuted as members of an idol group called KNK separately. A trainee named Su-woong also left Big Hit and later joined an idol group called “Boys’ Republic”. Bang Si-hyuk originally planned to form a team of four vocals and four rappers, but as Kido left, only seven people we know now remain. This is the beginning of the hip-hop boy group BTS.
BTS opened its YouTube channel on December 17th, 2012, two days before the 18th presidential election. The channel’s first content was RM‘s rap video “Vote,” which encouraged people to vote as a citizen as “each ballot is like a 30 million won bill” on Kanye West‘s “Power” beat. (This video is also suitable for the present 20th presidential election.) In the video, RM strongly appealed to his peers, saying, “Abstention is not a neutral sympathy,” and “Those who don’t vote should not criticize or blame anything,” clarifying that the concept BTS will take in the future is a “hip-hop idol group.” BTS took their first step with that intense rap track of leader RM, before releasing their first single “2 Cool 4 Skool” on June 12th of the following year and made their first appearance on broadcast on June 13th, the next day. And on July 9th, their official fan club name was finally released. The name “ARMY (Adorable Representative MC for Youth)” became inseparable from BTS from that moment. The “cute, lovely, and respectable MCs who will represent youth” announced their existence to the world as a fandom that will become even bigger in the future.
But wait. We are not trying to recite BTS‘s biography or discography here. Our purpose here is not to predict the chart performance they have achieved or the challenges and results they have conquered. Instead, we are about to focus on one of the BTS members. This person instilled Arthur (idol group KINGDOM)’s dream of becoming a singer through his solo dance “Butterfly“. BIC of MCND, who covered the choreography of “Black Swan,” said this person was his role model. CRAVITY’s Won-jin even said he was stunned by this person’s stage. BDC’s Kim Si-hoon, NewKidd’s Woo-chul, Stray Kids’ Hyun-jin, ATEEZ’s Woo-young, VICTON’s Lim Se-joon, TXT’s Huening Kai and Beom-gyu, ENHYPEN’s Niki and Jay all publicly expressed that they looked up to this member of BTS. In the end, they have longed for his world where he finds his freedom, happiness, and relieves his stress by dancing. That person is Jimin.
As mentioned earlier, Jimin was the “last piece of a puzzle called BTS,” who joined the team only months before the BTS lineup was decided. However, Jimin said he had thought of leaving the team eight times when he was a trainee, and it was quite dizzying considering his share of singing and dancing in BTS later. Jimin, who learned to dance when he was in the second year of middle school, knew what he was dreaming of from an early age. Just as RM realized his dream after listening to Nas and Eminem, and Suga listened to Stony Skunk and Epik High and fell in love with music after listening to G-Dragon‘s “Heartbreaker”, Jimin decided to become an idol after watching Rain.
As Jimin has dreamed of attending a dance academy after school, he went to Busan Arts High School to learn contemporary dance, which was the genre closest to practical dance (street dance). The term contemporary dance is important here because Jimin‘s original solo dance was based on this dance genre that evokes specific impressions with abstract movements. It is interesting that the head of his dance academy, who has been watching Jimin from the side from when he was in middle school to high school, testified that he was an “idea bank and a child who knew how to use his body.” This means that Jimin‘s skills rely on both his effort (idea bank) and talent (who knows how to use his body). It must have been thanks to Jimin‘s serious interest, concern, will, and practice in dancing that has inspired juniors like Arthur and BIC. One day, Jimin said in an interview that a performance is “not just a physical performance, but sharing a wide range of emotions and feelings that cannot be expressed with my members, audiences, and staff,” which is also a measure of why he became the “idol of idols” as a dancer. In the end, for Jimin, performance was a medium that binds various elements of his performance beyond physical expression, and furthermore, a link between the creator and the viewer.
In the spring of 2012, Jimin auditioned for Big Hit at the recommendation of a dance teacher in middle school. The song he sang at the audition was Lee Eun-mi‘s “I Have a Lover”. It was a popular song among middle school students at the time, and Jimin passed the audition with that song. Jimin, who has decided to join Big Hit, left his hometown of Busan and transferred to Seoul. Jimin said he practiced dancing until 3-4 a.m., took a short sleep for a while, and even practiced singing before going to school the next day as if that was the point to test his limits. Perhaps such a fierce life pattern has created today’s Jimin. In fact, Jimin stood out as an irreplaceable piece of BTS as a main dancer and vocalist. For example, as critic Kim Young-dae expressed when Jimin’s voice tone turns into a “total natural color” in the chorus of “Lie,” “Jimin himself focused on the details of vocal expressions, emphasizing all the subtle differences in his voice.” The songs he has sung so far, such as “Serendipity” and “Fake Love,” which RM evaluated as “Jimin completely saved the song with his faint high note,” were simply “perfect” (Jin‘s expression). For example, isn’t the beginning of “Blood, Sweat and Tears,” the turning point of BTS career, Jimin‘s voice? Many compare his tone to stardust or canaries, and even call him a “killing part maker,” which proves his presence in such songs. However, he says he is not satisfied with his own vocals, saying, “I’ve found my personality on a base that is not solid,” but is this humility or greed? Vocalist Jimin’s commitment to “go back to the beginning to lighten up himself” seems to be saying that he is both.
Tony Jones, who was his mentor during the filming of “American Hustle Life”, which became the beginning of many U.S. “ARMY,” mentioned Jimin‘s positive attitude and evaluated him as “a person who can give it to the audience knowing what they want.” Jimin is usually shy but becomes a completely different person on stage. He is an icon of empathy and communication as he gets his musical inspiration from the way other members work instead of Michael Jackson and Usher. Fans even said that, “Once you Jimin, you can’t Jim-out.” Perhaps this formula was valid even for junior idols who admired him.